Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has been ordered to turn himself in to police today to begin serving a 12-year prison term for corruption. Lula has proclaimed his innocence, saying the corruption charges were filed in an attempt to prevent him from running in this year’s election, which he was expected to win. Supporters of Lula say his conviction is a continuation of the right-wing coup that ousted Lula’s ally, President Dilma Rousseff, from power in 2016.
In Oklahoma, schools remain closed for a fifth day in the state’s two largest school districts as teachers remain on strike demanding better pay and increased funding for their schools. On Thursday, thousands of teachers packed the state Capitol again to push lawmakers to approve a new revenue package to fund the schools.
In other education news, Puerto Rico’s Department of Education has announced it will close 283 public schools due to the island’s economic crisis and dwindling population after Hurricane Maria. The announcement comes just weeks after Gov. Ricardo Rosselló signed a bill opening the door for charter schools and private school vouchers.
The New York Police Department has agreed to stop suspicionless surveillance on the basis of religion or ethnicity, as part of a settlement in a federal lawsuit over the NYPD’s spying on Muslims. The lawsuit was filed after the Associated Press revealed the NYPD had spied on at least 20 mosques, 14 restaurants, 11 retail stores, two grade schools and two Muslim student associations in New Jersey. The NYPD had a massive surveillance program targeting Muslim organizations in New York, as well. In addition, the police department has agreed to pay 10 businesses, mosques and individuals impacted by the surveillance.
In environmental news, 14 states have sued the Environmental Protection Agency, accusing the agency of failing to issue regulations for curbing emissions of methane from existing oil and gas operations as required under the Clean Air Act. This comes as EPA head Scott Pruitt is facing a growing number of ethics scandals. The New York Times has revealed at least five officials at the EPA were reassigned or demoted, or requested new jobs, in the past year after they raised concerns about the spending and management of Pruitt. He has faced a number of scandals in recent weeks over his renting of a D.C. condo from an energy lobbyist, his first-class travel arrangements and his role in securing massive raises for two close aides at the EPA.
During an address in West Virginia on Thursday, President Trump threw his prepared speech into the crowd and then made a series of false claims. Speaking about the 2016 election, Trump repeated his unsubstantiated claim that millions of people illegally voted.
President Donald Trump: “In many places, like California, the same person votes many times. You’ve probably heard about that. They always like to say, 'Oh, that's a conspiracy theory.’ Not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people.”
Trump also repeated his claim that Mexico sends rapists to the United States, which he often talked about on the campaign trail.
President Donald Trump: “Remember my opening remarks at Trump Tower when I opened. Everybody said, 'Oh, he was so tough.' And I used the word 'rape.' And yesterday it came out where this journey coming up, women are raped at levels that nobody has ever seen before. They don’t want to mention that.”
In media news, a prominent Latino journalist in Memphis has been detained by immigration officials after he was arrested while covering a protest against immigrant detention outside a county jail. Manuel Duran, who was born in El Salvador, is a well-known reporter on Spanish radio stations in Memphis. He also runs the online site Memphis Noticias. On Thursday, the state dropped criminal charges against Duran, but he was then detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. He now faces deportation. Local immigrant groups are calling for his release.
In Gaza, Palestinians are staging another round of protests near the Israeli border a week after Israeli troops opened fire on a peaceful demonstration. Over the past week Israel has killed at least 21 Palestinians, including a Gaza man on Thursday who died in an Israeli airstrike. While Israel’s actions have been widely criticized internationally, the United States has condemned Palestinians for protesting. On Thursday, White House envoy Jason Greenblatt said, “We condemn leaders and protesters who call for violence or who send protesters—including children—to the fence, knowing that they may be injured or killed.” Greenblatt’s statement made no reference to Israeli forces, who have opened fire on those protesters, including children.
New details have emerged about a secret program by Turkey’s intelligence agency to seize Turkish critics of Tayyip Erdogan across the globe. A top Turkish official has revealed Turkey has seized about 80 Turkish citizens in 18 countries. The program has been compared to the U.S. extraordinary rendition program after 9/11.
The New York State Attorney General’s Office has announced it would investigate the fatal shooting by police of an unarmed African-American man who was bipolar. Police say officers shot Saheed Vassell after mistaking a metal pipe he was holding for a gun. Over a thousand protesters gathered in Brooklyn at the scene of the shooting on Thursday.
Maria: “My name is Maria. And a friend of mine was shot down, shot 10 times, by the cops. He was very caring. I felt very comfortable. I would come home from work at 2 in the morning, and I will feel so comfortable when I see him, because I knew he was going to protect me and walk me all the way to my door, without being afraid of him. I wasn’t afraid of nothing. I knew him all my life, since he was a little kid.”
Najha Zigby-Johnson: “Hi. My name is Najha Zigby-Johnson, and I’m a long-term resident of Harlem. New York’s my home. And we’ve been seeing shootings happen too much. Too much. And something that’s really important that we heard today were folks talking about community accountability. The cops do not protect us. The cops were not created to protect us. And so, we need to come together and figure out alternative ways to protect and care for our own communities.”
A Dutch news organization has published a trove of internal documents from the oil giant Shell showing the company knew about the link between fossil fuel and global warming as far back as the 1980s. Despite their own findings, Shell, like other oil companies, publicly disputed the climate science for decades. One confidential 1988 report from Shell was titled “The Greenhouse Effect.” It read, “Although CO2 is emitted to the atmosphere through several natural processes … the main cause of increasing CO2 concentrations is considered to be fossil fuel burning.” Friends of the Earth Netherlands is threatening to sue Shell unless it increases efforts to comply with the Paris climate accord.
The state of Michigan has approved a controversial permit to allow Nestlé, the largest water bottling company in the world, to expand its operations in the state. Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality has given the OK to Nestlé to withdraw 400 gallons a minute from the state’s groundwater table despite receiving over 80,000 public comments against the project. Nestlé is not required to pay anything to extract the water, besides a small permitting fee to the state and the cost of leases to private landowners. According to one count, Nestlé’s bottled water is 7,000 times more expensive than what Nestlé is actually paying for it. Critics say Nestlé shouldn’t be allowed to profit from the state’s natural resources at a time when Michigan cities like Flint are still facing a crisis over contaminated water.
In Louisiana, two activists were arrested Thursday after they chained themselves inside barrels along the pipeline route of the proposed 163-mile Bayou Bridge pipeline. The pipeline is being built by Energy Transfer Partners, the same company behind the Dakota Access pipeline.
The visionary jazz pianist and composer Cecil Taylor has died at the age of 89. He is considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. He helped reshape the sound of jazz and improvised music.